The Bénéteau First 45 Elusive 2 is the overall winner of the 2019 Rolex Middle Sea Race!
October 28, 2019
The 606nm Rolex Middle Sea Race is one of the world’s most compelling and challenging offshore races.
The Bénéteau First 45 Elusive 2, carrying the Maltese flag, skippered by the Podesta family, and the American Maxi Rambler, owned by the record-breaking George David, took the plaudits in an edition that required steadfast persistence and patience in conditions that veered from the mentally sapping benign to the physically punishing malign.
Organized by the Royal Malta Yacht Club (RMYC), the Rolex Middle Sea Race is a captivating platform which demonstrates the appeal and demands of offshore sailing.
The Podesta family have been part of the fabric of the race since its beginnings in 1968. Arthur Podesta was one of the sailors on Josian, winner of the very first edition. As a crew member, Podesta would again experience success in 1970 and 1983, before becoming Commodore of the RMYC in the 1990s. When he passed away in 2015, Podesta had competed in all 35 races held to that point.
Embarking on race campaigns as skipper of his own yacht from 2002, he made the point of including his then teenage children – Maya, Aaron and Christoph – in the crew. All three have inherited their father’s passion and maintain the tradition of a Podesta always being on the start line of the Rolex Middle Sea Race.
The trio have honed their skills and experiences year on year, frequently winning their class, often claiming top ten finishes, but never quite reaching the top, until this year. “Preparations for next year always start immediately after the present race has finished,” admits Christoph Podesta who, despite the crew’s detailed and rigorous preparation, was pessimistic ahead of this year’s race.
“The first half was going to be downwind and light which doesn’t suit us. Our goal was to keep ourselves in the right position until we rounded Favignana.” This they did with aplomb. Once the wind strength intensified at the northwest corner of Sicily, Elusive 2 made the most of the upwind sailing to the finish, prevailing in the face of a seriously testing and uncomfortable sea state.
Confirmation that the Podestas and their crew fully deserved their success is evident throughout, but perhaps the need to overcome defending champion Courrier Recommandé, which finished second overall, is the clearest affirmation. “The name Elusive has been associated with the race for 18 years and it is an unbelievable achievement to win against the best,” remarked Aaron Podesta.
The 606-nautical mile race is the focus of the all-Corinthian, predominantly Maltese crew’s annual yacht racing calendar. The victory was born of intricate knowledge of a complex racecourse, built over many years. It also reflects the legacy of the Podesta children’s father, who introduced them to the sport and passed on his enthusiasm. “Deep down it means a lot more than we may ever realise,” said Maya. “What we have done is thanks to him.”
Line honors victor in all six of his Rolex Middle Sea Races – including in every one since 2015 – George David’s Rambler, at 27m (88-ft) the largest yacht in the fleet, was the emphatic favorite to finish first. The more tantalizing ambition was to beat the race record David had set in 2007 with one of his previous boats.
Read the full story at Scuttlebutt Sailing News.
For more news on this years race, visit the Rolex Middle Sea Race Facebook Page.
Want to know how you can sail your own First? Visit the Bénéteau First Range page or send us a enquiry via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.